The history of the Klingon people is a long and glorious one. One need only listen to the epic poems and operas about the deeds of their heroes to get a feel for the richness and depth of Klingon lore. The Klingons revere their history, or at least the history they have been taught. Klingons often prefer their cultural myths and legends to the dry (and sometimes embarrassing) details of factual history. There are many details about Klingon history that remain unknown, obscured by the mists of time and legend, but the history we do know tells us a great deal about the Klingons as a people.
Klingons prove the ancient human proverb "it is the victors who write the history." For as long as the Klingons have recorded their history, they have colored it with their particular beliefs, visions, and even prejudices. The Klingons are a people given to singing songs and creating legends, not to historical facts and research. Klingon leaders also prefer historical "facts" that support their position and bring them the greatest amount of glory. Therefore, many of the details of Klingon history are unclear, even to the Klingons.
This chapter provides the current Klingon version of their history. Chancellor Martok is less prone to prevarication than his predecessors, and has made some effort to "set the record straight" where possible. But even he admits, "Klingons do not want to hear about the failures and wrongdoings of the past unless there is a hero to set them right." While these events are as close to the truth about Klingon history as possible, there is always the possibility of new historical evidence coming to light.
The Klingon Imperial Calendar is based on the cycles of Qo'noS. Although the Klingons use a stardate system similar to that of the Federation, to account for temporal and spatial distortions involved in warp-travel, the Imperial Calendar remains in common use throughout the Empire.
The Klingon year-known as a DIS or "turn"-is 384.2 days long. It is divided into eight jar or months of 48 days each. Each month is divided into six Hogh or weeks of 8 days. The Klingon year begins with the Kot'baval festival, celebrating Kahless' victory over Molor. The months of the year are: A'Kahless, Jo'vos, Maktag, Merruthj, Soo'jen, Lo'Bral, Doqath, and Xan'lahr. Every five years, the Klingons add an additional day on to the Kot'baval festival, the balance out the calendar. Such "festival years" are considered particularly auspicious.
The Imperial Calendar begins with Kahless' victory over Molor as year 0, and the founding of the First Empire as year 1. Since their year is slightly longer than the standard Terran year, the Imperial Calendar tends to lag behind the old Terran Calendar. This often causes confusion when Klingons speak in terms of "years" or "centuries," since they may be referring Klingon measurements, Terran, Federation, or some other system. The dates in this chapter are from the old Earth calendar, unless stated otherwise.
The planet Qo'noS formed out of interstellar gases and dust billions of years ago. Much like other life-bearing planets Qo'noS was close enough to its parent star to warm its surface without burning away its precious water or atmosphere. It sheltered in the warmth, the fires of its formation cooling as the first rains poured down upon it, sending steam off its dark, rocky hide.
The waters filled the deep lowlands and valleys, forming a mighty sea, while a lone and rugged continent rose above the waters. In time, those waters became home to life, at first simple and tiny, later larger and more powerful. The life from those oceans found its way onto land, and grew stronger and more numerous. Millions of years later, the first true Klingons looked out into the night sky and wondered at their beginnings.
Klingon legend describes the origin of their race thus: From distant Qui'Tu the gods came to Qo'noS, which burned with fire. They took the fire of Qo'noS and shaped it, forming it into a heart that beat more powerfully and more forcefully than anything in the cosmos, the heart of the first Klingon. But the beat of the first Klingon heart was a lonely one, without equal in the universe. So the gods shaped from fire a second heart, as mighty and powerful as the first. Those two hearts beat together in unison and the gods trembled at their power. The beat of the two hearts grew stronger and stronger, until the gods could not withstand their might. United together, the first Klingons slew the gods that created them, proving there was nothing two united Klingon hearts could not accomplish.
According to Klingon legend, the first Klingons destroyed their creators, proving they were the strongest force in the universe. They did not do so out of malice, but because they were Klingons, and it was their nature. Modern Klingons often say their ancestors slew their gods "because they were too much trouble."
Interestingly enough, the research of archeologist Richard Galen in the 24th century suggests a grain of truth in this Klingon tale. Professor Galen discovered certain commonalties in the genetics of species spread across many different worlds, including Earth and Qo'noS. He speculated that an ancient race of progenitors "seeded" the oceans of these worlds with genetic material billions of years ago, when life was first forming. Later investigation proved Galen's theory correct and uncovered a message from these ancient, humanoid aliens.
Only a few high-ranking Klingons are aware of the information uncovered by Professor Galen, and they reject the idea that Klingons could have any sort of kinship with humans, much less Romulans or Cardassians! The idea is considered scientific heresy in the Empire, and kept secret by the High Council.
If the gods of Klingon legend really were aliens, they may have left some trace, even after billions of years. Such aliens were no doubt highly advanced and some of their technology or artifacts may still exist. Scientists have sought to study Qo'noS in hopes of exploring this theory, but the Klingons frown on scientific research that questions their past, particularly when it calls their most fundamental legends into question. The Klingons cling stubbornly to their traditional views, despite any evidence to the contrary. For example, the discovery of stone age Klingon ruins on Qo'noS served more as a confirmation of the legend of Ja'Duch than a challenge to it.
According to Klingon myth, after they slew the gods, the First Klingons were forced to survive in the harsh wilderness of Qo'noS. The world was a hostile and dangerous place and, although they were strong, the first Klingons were faced with terrible hardships, and hunted by dangerous beasts. But they were Klingons, and they did not despair. Instead, they took the fire from within their hearts and brought light into the darkness. They took stones from the mountains and worked them into weapons to fight the beasts that menaced them. With these tools, they overcome all obstacles that stood in their way.
In fact, the earliest recognizable Klingon skeleton uncovered by archeologists dates back to approximately 500,000 BC. At this time, Klingons apparently lived in extended family tribal units that were at least somewhat nomadic, traveling from place to place in search of food, following the migrations of various food animals. These early Klingons discovered fire and used stone and bone tools made by hand. Archeological evidence suggests these weapons were used for more than hunting; Klingon remains have been uncovered with spear and knife points lodged in them. The early Klingons likely fought over the most valuable hunting territories on Qo'noS, beginning their long history of conflict.
Archeologists have uncovered the remains of what must be one of the first Klingon settlements, around 25,000 BC. A small collection of stone huts built around a central fire-pit, surrounded by a low stone boundary wall. This coincides with the dawn of agriculture and animal domestication on Qo'noS, as well as the formation of the first extended communities or "houses." These developments appear quite suddenly in Klingon prehistory, and no scientific evidence has been uncovered about how they originated.
The early Klingons grew and harvested food near their villages, and hunted in the surrounding area along with domesticating animals like the targ, which served as a source of food, hides, and bone tools. Archeologists believe early Klingons also raised gagh (serpent worms), although there is no proof of this.
Klingon legend offers an explanation in the form of Ja'Duch, a legendary warrior and hero, said to have founded the first Klingon house. Ja'Duch was a great hunter and fought battles against other tribes to protect his people. He was renowned for his generosity, and for his unusual custom of performing the ru'ustai ("bonding") ceremony with the families of his honored enemies, who lost their own protectors. In this way Ja'Duch brought the families of his defeated enemies into his own tribe, which grew quickly and became strong. They established a vaS'a, a village, under Ja'Duch's direction, so creating the House of Ja'Duch, the first great hall or "house" of a Klingon warlord. Nothing is know of what became of the House of Ja'Duch following the death of its founder.
Ancient Klingons held to burial customs quite different from those of modern Klingons. Archeologists theorize the ancient Klingons believed in the need for the body to be interred in the ground for the spirit to find its way into the afterlife. Ancient burial sites have bodies wrapped in shrouds and placed in deep pits or natural caves, often decorated with paintings or carvings of Fek'lhr, the guardian of Gre'thor, the underworld.
With the rise of powerful city-states and a true Klingon ruling class, burial customs became even more elaborate. Powerful leaders built massive tombs to glorify themselves, decorated with paintings and carvings of their achievements. Bodies were mummified, wrapped in chemically treated bandages to preserve them, and decorated with jewelry and glyphs. These tombs have been compared to the glories of the First Hebitian Civilization on Cardassia, or the Egyptian civilization on Earth. Although many ancient Klingon tombs were looted and destroyed-by later Empires as well as during the Hur'q Invasion-some of them still stand and are preserved by the Klingons as treasures of their ancient past.
For thousands of years, the Klingons lived in small settlements and villages. The idea of extended houses spread throughout Klingon society. Houses offered many advantages, not the least of which were greater numbers and more allies in battle. Other Klingon leaders adopted the idea, performing the ru'ustai to unite different tribes together as a single house under their leadership. Many of these houses did not survive the death of the leader that brought them together, but others were passed down to successors able to hold them together for another generation or two. In time, the leadership of a house became a traditional position, passed on from father to son, although an upstart could always challenge the current leader for his position.
Around 6,000 BC, the concept of houses was firmly established in Klingon culture. Settlements grew larger as the more successful houses grew and continued to war against one another. As the great houses grew, it became more and more difficult to incorporate one's enemies into one's own house after defeating them. Rival houses were simply too large for such forced alliances, and attempts made to unify houses by force resulted in bloody civil wars that tore the newly unified house apart and destroyed both sides.
According to legend, a Klingon warlord named Kargas hit upon the idea of bringing different houses together without forcing them to become one house. Instead, as individuals and families joined a house, so could houses join together to form a nation, working together for their mutual benefit. It was a radical idea, but Kargas made it work through a combination of cunning diplomacy and persuasion at the point of his sword. The heirs of his enemies were allowed to keep their house and their title, so long as they swore oaths of loyalty to the House of Kargas. More importantly, houses were allowed to join Kargas' new alliance of their own free will, and some did once they saw the potential benefits.
Kargas and his allies are believed to have the Klingon city that still bears his name, the first true city-state on Qo'noS. Although the city has been conquered, destroyed, and rebuilt many times over thousands of years, Kargas' original alliance lasted for generations before the tides of war brought down his house, which is lost in the mists of legend.
The idea of the city-state spread through Klingon society, and other houses began to form alliances of their own. From these new city-states emerged the first true signs of modern Klingon ideas of nobility, along with blood feuds between houses, which began during this time.
Although Klingon city-states were successful, they also grew too rapidly for the meager resources of their territory to sustain them. This led to the first large-scale wars in Klingon history, as city-states and alliances fought each other for control of valuable land and resources. Vast armies battled on the plains of Qo'noS, and city-states rose and fell based on the outcomes of those battles.
One of the bloodiest and fiercest battles of this time was the Battle of Tong Vey. Tong Vey was ancient city-state that refused the advances of a warlord named Sompek to join his new and growing empire. Sompek led an army of ten thousand Klingon warriors to lay siege to Tong Vey for months. Legends speak of the "vast sea of warriors that broke against the walls of Tong Vey." Starvation and disease gripped the populace of the city as they held out against Sompek's army for as long as they could. Their continued defiance to his will only angered the Emperor more and more.
Finally, after months of siege, the people of Tong Vey had no choice but to surrender to Sompek and agree to join his empire. The Emperor accepted their surrender but, as the gates of the city opened, he ordered his troops to kill every inhabitant of the city and to burn Torn Vey to the ground, so no sign of the defiant city would survive.
Sompek's destruction of Tong Vey set the tone for millennia of Klingon history, as petty empires rose and fell across Qo'noS. The leaders of great houses schemed and forged alliances, raising new warlords to rule over collections of powerful city-states. New empires warred with the old, falling before their might, or toppling them and taking their place.
Although many legendary Klingon heroes appear in this period, Klingon culture acknowledges it as a dark time, when Emperors and leaders had no understanding of honor or the obligations of a leader to his people, as shown by heroes like Ja'Duch or Kargas. The so-called "Time of the Tyrants" is often the subject of tragic Klingon operas, where cruel leaders and warlords are brought down by their own lack of honor.
Some fifteen hundred years ago, a figure arose that would change Klingon culture and society forever. Kahless was born to a common family in an empire ruled by the tyrant Molor. Molor was known as a cruel and despotic leader, who built his empire on conquest and cunning, oppressing his people with heavy taxes and other demands to supply Molor's own army and to fill his palace with luxuries.
After their father died in Molor's army, Kahless' brother Morath went to the great hall of Molor to ask the Emperor for money to support the family's lands. To gain the money, Morath told the egotistical tyrant his father supported Molor, and that the emperor's people loved him. When Kahless found out about Morath's lie, he insisted on returning the money to Molor. Morath refused, leading the two brothers to fight. According to Klingon legend, Kahless and Morath battled for twelve days and twelve nights before Morath surrendered, realizing his brother was right.
When they attempted to return the money to the tyrant emperor, Molor was offended. He ordered Morath killed and the family's land confiscated. The two brothers fought to escape, and Morath gave his life so Kahless might live, having learned the lessons of honor at last.
Kahless escaped into the mountains surrounding Molor's city, where he lived alone for many years as an exile and hermit. According to the legend, one day, while pondering his fate, Kahless was struck by inspiration. The idea of a code of honor, as a way to govern the actions of true Klingons, formed in his mind. With the fires of honor burning in his heart and mind, Kahless, forged the first bat'leth in the fires of Kri'Stak, a volcano in those mountains. When his weapon was ready, Kahless returned home. He fought his way through one hundred warriors to reach Molor's throne room, where he challenged Molor to face him in battle. Kahless slew the tyrant after a duel that lasted for seven days and nights.
With the defeat of Molor, his people hailed Kahless as a hero and liberator. It is said his first act after Molor's defeat was to return to his family's farm, where he used his bat'leth to harvest all the fields in a single day, ensuring his family would have food to eat and money to support them. Kahless then assumed the role of Emperor, and rallied the people around him. They quickly swore fealty to their liberator, and word of Kahless' victory spread.
When news of Molor's death and Kahless' ascension reached the nearby city-states, their rulers thought they sensed weakness in this commoner-turned-Emperor. They prepared to invade and seize Molor's former territory for their own. Some few city-states, swayed by Kahless' philosophy of honor, chose to join him. Kahless himself led the city's warriors to defend it. His small army withstood an assault from a force more than ten times their size at Three Turn Bridge, where Kahless is said to have held the pass entirely by himself. The blood of his enemies flowed so freely the river there is still known as "The River of Blood."
After his victory at Three Turn Bridge, the noble houses agreed to support Kahless and he won the respect of friend and enemy alike. Nobles flocked to swear fealty to the new Emperor. Those who continued to defy Kahless' power soon felt it for themselves as the Empire continued to grow.
As the years passed, Kahless' Empire became the largest and most powerful on Qo'noS. Kahless conquered and unified the whole world under his rule, creating the First Klingon Empire. Many legends grew up around Kahless and his successors, and Klingons often regard the First Empire as a kind of "golden age" of honor and heroism.
Stories of Kahless' exploits are found all throughout Klingon culture and lore, so many that it is impossible to believe any one man could have accomplished so much in a single lifetime. Among other things, Kahless is attributed with creating the code of honor that is the foundation of Klingon culture. He forged the first bat'leth and created the first combat styles based around it, winning numerous battles (often single-handedly). He slew the Serpent of Xol and conquered the Fek'lhri, carved statues, and performed an endless array of other feats.
His battle with the Serpent of Xol is typical of many of Kahless' legendary deeds. The Serpent laired in the mountains where Kahless spent his years of exile, before learning the ways of the warrior and forging his bat'leth. As a test of his new weapon, Kahless sought out the serpent in its mountain lair. Finding it asleep, he woke it with a terrible battle cry and proceeded to fight it for hours on end.
Finally, battered and bleeding, the serpent's venom burning in his blood, Kahless drove the point of his bat'leth into the serpent's brain, killing it. As he lay on the floor of the serpent's lair, he had a vision of the future. The poison burned away his thirst for vengeance against Molor, and made him realize his greater destiny, to unite the Klingon people. He coined the Klingon proverb; "revenge is a dish best served cold." Kahless wore the hide of the serpent of Xol as his armor when he went to face Molor, and he kept it always as a reminder of his duty to his people.
Kahless lived to be a great age. It is said that in his later years Kahless feared his fame and greatness were a liability to the Empire rather than an asset. He worried that his people were growing dependent on him, losing the fire in their hearts. So Kahless chose to abdicate as Emperor and depart, without naming a successor, so his people could learn what it meant to be Klingons again. Before he left, Kahless pointed to a star in the night sky and said he would return from there one day. Then he departed the imperial city, leaving his weapons and armor behind, and vanished into the wilderness, never to be heard from again. But the spirit of Kahless lives on in every Klingon who remembers his name and hears tales of his glory.
In 1372 AD, more than 700 years after the founding of the First Empire, the Klingons were firmly in an industrial era. The Empire unified all of Qo'noS and established extensive routes of trade and commerce. It also solidified the power of the noble houses and established the beginnings of the Klingon High Council. Although the houses still struggled against each other, most of the great wars of conquest were over. Klingons often longed for the glory days of the past, the great battles of Kahless. They longed for an enemy to fight, and they got one.
Little is known about the Hur'q. The name means simply "outsider" in Klingon. According to historical records, the Hur'q wore full-body environmental suits, and never showed their faces. They may have come from a non-Class M environment. Their technology was superior to that of the Klingons, although there is no evidence they possessed transporter or force field technology. Still, the Hur'q were more than a match for Klingons warriors armed with blades and primitive firearms. They invaded Qo'noS and killed hundreds of thousands of Klingons who fought against them. The Hur'q raided and plundered many of the homeworld's cultural and historical treasures, including the Sword of Kahless, which they took with them back to the stars.
The Hur'q Invasion lasted for only seven months, but it left Qo'noS practically in ruins. Klingon history and legend records that they drove off the Hur'q and prevented them from taking over the planet, but it is entirely possible the Hur'q were not interested in conquest, merely looting, and they left of their own accord. Archeologists have found Hur'q ruins as far away as the Gamma Quadrant, suggesting the Hur'q had access to extremely advanced starships or some sort of shortcut like a wormhole in order to cover such a vast distance.
It took the First Empire nearly a century to fully recover from the damage done by the Hur'q Invasion. Recovery was hindered by infighting between the different noble houses for control over scarce resources. Slowly but surely, the Klingons rebuilt their shattered Empire and repopulated their cities. They looked towards space with a new vision. Now they knew there were enemies out there, enemies of the Klingon people. The Hur'q were gone, but they might come again, and the Klingon Empire fully intended to bring the battle to them.
The Klingons embarked on a study of the sciences of flight and space travel. Previously, there was little interest in either, apart from a few scholars who studied the prophecy of Kahless. Now the whole Empire devoted itself to learning how to reach the stars. The program suffered from various setbacks as civil wars split the Empire from time to time, and many early Klingon astronauts died in the name of science, but every effort taught the Klingons a little more.
By the early 21st century, the Klingon space program was well underway. The Klingons used vast slower-than-light generation ships to explore and colonize nearby star systems. These ships took decades to reach their destinations, carrying hundreds, even thousands of Klingons in suspended animation. If they found their destination uninhabited, the Klingons colonized. Where they found other civilizations, they conquered. In time, the Klingon Empire encompassed a cluster of systems surrounding Qo'noS. Governance of this vast Empire was difficult without the advantage of subspace communication, so many of the great houses directly governed colony worlds. This increased the power of the houses and further divided them into separate camps.
In 2069 AD the last Klingon Emperor died without a successor. For a short time civil war on Qo'noS-and throughout the Empire-seemed certain, but the High Council of the noble houses stepped forward to take up the reins of power. For generations the High Council had grown in power and influence, going from an advisory body established by Kahless to the real power behind the imperial throne.
The death of the Emperor worked in the Council's favor, and they decided to secure power for themselves. The Chancellor of the Council assumed executive power and the role of Emperor was left vacant. Klingons consider the death of the last Emperor the end of the First Empire, and the ascension of the Council as the beginning of the Second Empire.
During their centuries of expansion into space, the Klingons did not encounter the Hur'q again. The inhabited worlds they found were primitive by comparison and easily conquered by Klingon warriors. On some of these worlds, the Klingons heard rumors of a race known as the Breen, which sounded similar to the Hur'q in many respects-humanoids concealed beneath full-body environmental suits. In 2142, The Klingon High Council gathered a fleet and sent it to conquer the Breen, but it was never heard from again. The Klingons chose to leave the Breen alone and expand elsewhere.
In 2218, the Klingons had their first encounter with a more technologically advanced civilization since the Hur'q. The Federation starship U.S.S. Ranger arrived to explore the region of the Klingon Empire. The Ranger traveled to Qo'noS and made first contact with the Klingons, unaware of the Empire's intense paranoia regarding visitors from the stars. The Ranger disappeared and the Federation never received any word of its whereabouts. A few years later, Federation ships exploring in the region encountered Klingons using warp-drive starships to rapidly expand the boundaries of their Empire. The Klingons attacked these invaders into their space and drove them off. They ignored Federation attempts at communication.
Following contact with the Ranger, Klingon society underwent a dramatic change. Chancellor Kadur declared himself supreme ruler of the Empire, backed by military leaders, and dissolved the High Council. In its place Kadur elevated the military High Command and appointed a bureaucracy of ministers to handle government affairs. He also revoked the privileges of the noble houses and seized their lands for the Empire. The backing of the military and the potential threat of the Federation allowed Kadur to succeed, and the Klingon Empire became a monolithic nation controlled by the High Command. Warp-driven ships enforced the Chancellor's will throughout the Empire, and brought rebellious worlds back into the fold through force.
The Klingon Empire remained hostile towards the Federation for decades. The Klingons expanded virtually unopposed in the Beta Quadrant, making forays into systems bordering on Federation space. Their new government made the Klingons even more aggressive and expansionistic than before. The destruction of the Federation colony on Ardan IV near the Klingon/UFP border fanned the flames of conflict as the Klingons sought a war with their new adversaries.
In 2242, a small Klingon fleet engaged Starfleet in the Donatu star system. The Battle of Donatu V ended with the Klingons withdrawing to their own space, forced back by the cunning of the Federation. The Empire realized the Federation was a worthier adversary than it imagined, and expansion into the Alpha Quadrant was effectively halted for some 25 years as both sides warily watched each other across the border and the Empire continued to reorganize and arm for war.
In 2267, after a number of skirmishes and brush-wars, the Empire was prepared. The High Command was in complete control and Klingon military forces were at their peak. They demanded Federation withdrawal from disputed territories along the border and sent agents to worlds in those areas to prepare them for conquest. Commander Kor took a mighty Klingon fleet to the planet Organia along the Federation border. Organia appeared to be a primitive world, ripe for conquest. They knew this would provoke a response from Starfleet and the war would be joined.
The Federation did indeed respond, but the Klingon fleet prepared for glorious battle, every instrument and weapon on board their ships became red-hot and painful to handle. The "primitive" Organians were, in fact, immensely powerful energy beings. They prevented the battle from taking place and forced the Klingons to accept a peace treaty with the Federation, the first such treaty in the history of the Empire. The Organian Peace Treaty stated that disputed worlds would go to the civilization best able to develop them, and the Organians claimed they would prevent any further attempts at war between the two parties. The Klingons had no choice but to accept.
For the first time, the Klingons were faced with an enemy they could not meet in open battle. They took some of their frustration out in attacks on the nearby Romulan Empire. Then they realized; if they could not attack the Federation directly, then perhaps they could do so with the assistance of allies. Conquering the Romulans would take time and resources away from dealing with the Federation, so the Klingons offered an alliance to the Romulans. They provided the Romulans with warp technology and better ships, and received Romulan cloaking technology in return. This allowed the Romulans to draw more of the Federation's attention.
The alliance was never a strong one. The Klingon Empire considered itself the superior power, and the Klingons found the arrogance of the Romulans difficult to stomach. A number of object lessons were necessary to ensure the Romulans knew who was the stronger, which only led to further Romulan defiance. In 2271, the Romulans disputed Klingon possession of Klach D'Kel Bracht, a mineral-rich planet along the border. When the Romulans attempted to take the planet for themselves, a force of Klingon warriors, led by Kor, fought to hold the planet for the Empire. They overcame the Romulans in glorious battle, and Kor chose to teach the Romulans a lesson.
The Klingon fleet continued deeper into Romulan space, pushing aside the resistance of the Romulans until it reached Tranome Sar, a system on the outskirts of the center of the Romulan Empire. Kor's forces battled the Romulan fleet, showing who was the superior warrior. Kor's message was clearly received by the Romulans.
In 2285, the Klingons discovered the Federation was developing a powerful new weapon. This "Genesis device" could destroy all life on a planet, while at the same time creating an ideal environment for colonization. Faced with possible extermination, the Empire chose to violate the Organian Treaty to obtain the device. Although the mission failed, the Klingons made an important discovery: the Organians were not enforcing their treaty! Scouts dispatched to Organia discovered the planet was apparently abandoned. Many Klingons suspected the Organians' threats were merely a ruse all along. This emboldened them to see how far they could go.
The following year, seeking new territory to conquer, the Klingon vessel Ka'vas ventured into the Betreka Nebula, an area filled with energy distortions that caused minor damage to the ship. A nearby Cardassian vessel, detecting what they believed to be easy prey, moved in and attacked the Ka'vas. The Klingons retaliated, crippling the Cardassians, but suffering significant damage in return. Both ships withdrew and reported, and the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Union declared war again each other. For eighteen years, the two powers engaged in skirmishes and conflicts in and around the nebula before the Klingon Empire declared the war won and turned its attention to more pressing matters.
In 2292, the treacherous Romulans abrogated the alliance and ejected Klingon vessels from their territory, ambushing and destroying any that remained behind. Fortunately, by that point, the Klingons knew they no longer needed the Romulans. There would be no more subterfuge, no more slinking in shadows. The Klingons would claim the battle that was rightfully theirs.
As the Empire prepared for war, fate took a hand. In 2293, Praxis, the moon of Qo'noS, exploded. The force of the explosion and the resulting dust cloud around Qo'noS devastated the planet, leaving the Klingons facing the slow death of their homeworld. In the space of 50 years, Qo'noS would become lifeless. The High Command was at a complete loss. Hated by the Romulans and at war with the Cardassians, the Empire had only one place to turn for help: the Federation.
Chancellor Gorkon realized there was no choice, his people had to achieve peace with the Federation or Qo'noS was doomed, but the military High Command was not capable of peace, only war. Gorkon secured the support of the noble houses, but a large portion of the military opposed his plans. A faction of military renegades engineered Gorkon's assassination on the eve of his meeting with the Federation to ensure war, but their plot was exposed and the ringleader, General Chang, killed in battle. Gorkon's daughter Azetbur assumed control of the High Command to carry out her father's wishes. The Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets signed the Khitomer Accords shortly thereafter.
The new peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire was a shaky one at best. Many Klingons still considered the Federation an enemy, and the military supported the idea of war against the Federation. Fortunately, the Empire was forced to focus on internal matters for decades following the Accords.
With the assistance of the Federation the Empire averted ecological disaster on Qo'noS and began a program of slowly repairing the planet's damaged ecosphere and infrastructure. Chancellor Azetbur introduced sweeping reforms in Klingon government and society, calling for a return to rule by the noble houses, the restoration of traditional Klingon values and social structures, and a reduction in the power of the Chancellor and the military.
This naturally received the full support of the nobility and weakened the power of the High Command, which was divided up once again according to house, breaking up agitators and preventing organized resistance from forming. Azetbur stepped down as Chancellor once the old ways were fully instituted once more, preventing women from serving on the High Council. She remained a valued advisor to the Council for years and is seen as a hero by many Klingons.
Despite Federation aid and years of relative peace, many Klingons still saw the Khitomer Accords as a defeat. Attitudes towards the Federation were slow to change and it was commonly believed that war was inevitable once the Empire settled matters at home.
That changed in 2344, when four Romulan warbirds attacked the Klingon outpost on Narendra III. The Federation starship U.S.S. Enterprise-C responded to the distress call. Although the Enterprise was unable to defeat the Romulans, the valiant sacrifice of her crew was seen as the first true signs of honor in the Federation. The Romulans continued their attacks against Klingon targets over the next several years, including the massacres at Khitomer and Edosha VII. Each time, the Federation aided the Klingons in battle, and helped treat the survivors.
The valor of Starfleet shamed the Klingons, who began to see the Federation in a new light. In 2352, Federation and Klingon delegates attended a conference on Narendra III and signed the formal Treaty of Alliance. Among the negotiators were the Ramatian diplomat Riva and Federation negotiator Curzon Dax, a skilled match for Koloth, one of the Empire's greatest warriors and diplomats.
Although the Treaty of Alliance led to a new era of peaceful relations between the UFP and the Klingon Empire, not everyone in the Empire was pleased with their Federation allies. Some militant houses found even the idea of "peaceful relations" offensive. A small number of Klingon ships and citizens chose to go renegade following the treaty in order "to die on their feet, rather than live on their knees." These renegade Klingons raided and attacked ships along the Federation/Klingon border. One pair of Klingon renegades even attempted to seize control of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D in 2364.
For the most part, the Klingon Empire spent the time following the signing of the Treaty of Alliance focusing on domestic matters. The Empire was still recovering from the destruction of Praxis and the rebuilding of its traditional culture. Political upheaval and Romulan interference became increasingly common on many of its colony worlds. Subjects of the Empire began pressing for concessions, even seeking independence. Such rebellions had to be put down.
Chancellor K'mpec is known for having ruled the Klingon Empire longer than anyone else in its history. K'mpec's levelheaded guidance and iron will helped make the Federation/Klingon Alliance a success. In 2367, K'mpec was poisoned by his political enemies. But before his death, he named Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise as arbiter of succession for the High Council.
Picard conducted the rite of succession for Gowron and Duras, the contenders for the position of Chancellor. Before the conclusion of the rites, Duras was killed in a duel by Worf, a Klingon Starfleet officer, who claimed right of vengeance against Duras for the death of his mate, K'Ehleyr. Gowron became the sole candidate for Chancellor, until Duras' sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, revealed their brother had a son, Toral. When Captain Picard ruled Toral's claim invalid, the House of Duras led a rebellion against Gowron's forces, plunging the Empire into civil war.
The Federation chose to remain neutral in the conflict, and initial engagements went poorly for Gowron's forces, resulting in significant losses. It was later revealed the House of Duras was secretly allied with the Romulans. When a Federation fleet halted the flow of Romulan supplies to the rebel forces, Gowron's leadership turned the tide and won the war. Toral was captured, although his aunts escaped. Gowron gave Toral's life to Worf, who chose to spare him. The scion of the House of Duras went into hiding shortly thereafter.
Gowron's rule of the Klingon Empire helped restore stability following the civil war. But, in 2369, a new threat to Gowron's leadership appeared, this one more dangerous than the House of Duras ever imagined being.
Kahless the Unforgettable reappeared at a monastery on the planet Boreth, as foretold by Kahless himself some fifteen centuries earlier. It was later proven this Kahless was a clone, created by the monks of Boreth to fulfill the prophecy and restore honor to what they saw as a corrupt government. Chancellor Gowron initially denounced Kahless as a fake. But as belief in Kahless' return spread, Gowron chose to accept the new Kahless' claim to the imperial throne, rather than risk another civil war. Kahless became the first Emperor of the Klingon Empire in centuries, although his position was that of a figurehead and spiritual leader. Political power remained in the hands of the High Council and the Chancellor.
Gowron grew increasingly paranoid over possible threats to his rule. When a civilian uprising overthrew the military government on Cardassia Prime, Gowron was convinced the Founders of the Dominion engineered the coup. He ordered an invasion of Cardassia to seize and execute members of the Detapa Council, believing them to be changelings. When the Federation refused to aid the Empire in its assault, Gowron dissolved the Khitomer Accords and the Treaty of Alliance.
Starfleet personnel helped the Detapa Council escape the Klingon fleet, and came under fire when Klingons pursued them back to Deep Space 9. The station's weapons, combined with the firepower of the U.S.S. Defiant, were enough to drive off the Klingon forces. Chancellor Gowron halted the invasion of Cardassia and declared victory. Klingon forces fortified worlds taken from the Cardassians and began attacking outposts along the Romulan border. Federation efforts to convince Gowron to relinquish captured Cardassian territory only angered him and led to a further deterioration of relations.
On suspicion that Gowron himself was actually a changeling, a group of Starfleet officers went undercover disguised as Klingons. They discovered a changeling posing as General Martok, one of Gowron's advisors, and exposed him. This led to a temporary suspension of hostilities between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. Not long thereafter, Gowron was convinced it was in the best interests of both the Empire and the Federation to restore the Khitomer Accords and the Treaty of Alliance and unite against the common threat of the Dominion/Cardassian alliance.
The true General Martok was rescued from a Dominion prison camp in the Gamma Quadrant. Chancellor Gowron made him commander of a Klingon detachment on Deep Space 9 to keep watch over the Dominion/Cardassian alliance. Martok's presence became important when the Dominion demanded full right of passage through the Bajoran wormhole, only to be denied by the Federation. The Dominion launched an attack on Deep Space 9, signaling the beginning of the Dominion War.
From the very beginning, Klingon forces fought at the forefront of the war alongside the Federation. General Martok led numerous sorties against Cardassian and Jem'Hadar forces and was placed in command of the war effort. For the Klingons, it was a glorious time of battle against a powerful enemy. For many Klingon warriors, it was an opportunity to die on their feet, fighting for the Empire, and many warriors did as the Dominion continued to slowly force the Federation/Klingon alliance back. The addition of the Romulan Empire to the alliance managed to slow the Dominion advance, but did not halt it.
As leader of the Klingon Forces, General Martok carried out a number of daring and glorious attacks against the Dominion, including the destruction of the Dominion shipyards at Monak IV. Towards the end of the war, Gowron came to see General Martok's fame as a threat to his authority. After he honored Martok with admission to the Order of the Bat'leth, Gowron chose to assume command of the Klingon portion of the war effort directly. This led to several disastrous attacks against Dominion forces, including one where Martok was nearly killed. Although Martok protested, he could not sway the Chancellor from his unwise course of action.
Finally, Klingon forces remained all that stood between the alliance and the Dominion's new allies, the Breen. When Gowron continued to waste the lives of Klingon warriors on ill-conceived attacks, he threatened the entire war effort. Worf, the son of Mogh, opposed Gowron's decisions and challenged his right to lead the High Council. Worf killed Gowron in single combat, but did not take up the Chancellor's robe for himself. Instead, he passed the duty on to General Martok, a man he both trusted and respected. Martok accepted reluctantly, and has since used his authority as Chancellor to bring a sense of honor and responsibility back to the role, and to the Empire.
Under Martok's leadership, Klingon warriors stood at the forefront of a combined invasion of Cardassian space to root out the Dominion. True to his word, Martok stood on the surface of Cardassia Prime and drank bloodwine to toast the defeat of the Dominion. Following the Dominion's surrender, the Chancellor returned to Qo'noS to take up governing the Empire